How to look the part in business

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American costume designer Edith Head once said: “You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.” And when it comes to the competitive world of business, what better way to make sure you stand out than by dressing the part?

We might like to think that we don’t judge people based on their appearance, but rightly or wrongly, the clothes you wear can have a huge effect on the way others view you. In fact, when a Canadian study in 2011 asked a group of students to project the workplace outcomes of two men pictured in photographs – one dressed in a tailored suit and the other in casual wear – the students consistently assumed that the smarter man earned more money and was more likely to be promoted.

From classic tailoring to carefully chosen accessories, this post will explain how you can always look the part in business.   

Accessorise carefully

When dressing for business, it’s important not to over-accessorise. Not only can heavy jewellery be distracting for other people to look at, there’s also the temptation for you to fiddle with or adjust it throughout the day. This can create the impression that you’re nervous – lots of body language specialists list constantly moving hands as a symptom of anxiety or unease.

Start with a classic watch, such as Breitling watches for men or women. It’s the ideal way to make a style statement without wearing anything too distracting. Even better, it shows everyone else how organised you are. You won’t be running late to a meeting ever again!

Wear a tailored jacket

Almost nothing will make you look sloppier than a badly fitting jacket. Invest in a smart jacket with a tailored style, and you’ll have an excellent wardrobe staple that can be used to smarten up more basic outfits.

Karl Lagerfeld might have said that you’re never over or under-dressed in a little black dress, but the same also applies to a tailored jacket. If you’re ever unsure of a dress code or can’t decide what to wear for a meeting, a well-fitting blazer will make almost anything look business-appropriate.

Create a capsule work wardrobe

If you wore a uniform to school, you’ll remember how reassuring it was to know what you were always going to put on every day. Not only did it save time in the mornings, it also meant that you never had to worry if you were wearing the right thing.

Consider your business-wear as a type of uniform, and you’ll be able to reclaim that confidence. The best way to go about this is to create a capsule wardrobe for your work clothes, typically consisting of between 10 and 20 items, depending on how varied you’d like it to be.

The key is that almost all of your items should work together. For men, this might mean building a wardrobe around two business suits, making sure that all of your shirts and ties coordinate with one or both of these.

For women, structure your wardrobe around key pieces such as your favourite jacket or a pair of (comfortable) court shoes. Choose a neutral colour palette – blacks, whites, creams, greys, and pastel shades – to maximise the number of items that you can wear together.

Creating a business wardrobe doesn’t have to be hard. Follow these tips to feel confident every day!